HardPin recently teamed up with Already Alive and Gyrate Media to create a PSA called "You Don't Know Me" for Verizon's Innovative Learning program. The program provides young African American and Latino boys who are interested in science and technology an opportunity to nurture their interests in innovative technology. Director Michael Marantz applied his outstanding vision to a concept Gyrate so tastefully crafted to shine a light on these amazing kids and the false assumptions people make of them.
Spoken word poet Michael Alexander adds his voice to the vision and the poem that he and Marantz formed flows into the video like the narrator in an old story; wise and ominous, all knowing. Alexander gives a distinct and deliberate voice to the piece, immediately felt in the opening line "what you perceive creates an illusion of who I am." He couldn't have summed it up better.
The overall message of this commercial is to blow away the assumptions we make from a person’s outward appearance. In recent years, America has seen first hand the dangers young black boys face when people are afraid and mis-guided by appearances. Young men of color are often perceived as dangerous regardless of what they are wearing. The image of a young black man wearing a hoodie has incited increased aggression and the deadly results seemingly a constant occurrence, like in the murder of Trayvon Martin. It seems prudent to address how the element of concealment strikes irrational fear in some people, enough fear to warrant the murder of an unarmed young man.
This piece is an attempt to try and change the perceived assumptions of who these youths are and what they are capable of; young men working hard to better their education and accommodate themselves in a growing world. They are eager and intelligent young pioneers in a growing field, who see first hand the needs of their community and faces these challenges head on.
We shot the PSA in Brooklyn, utilizing an awesome old red brick building that provided plenty of natural light for the bedroom scene. We also shot on the streets outside of the building and a school a few blocks down to capture authentic locations in which these young innovators are coming from.
While a PSA isn't long enough to delve into all the nuances of a character like in longer productions, every element of this shoot works to drive the relationship between character and audience. From the amazing Art Direction of Billy Gerard Frank , to the incredible photography of Kristian Zuniga every element came from a place of reflection and dedication in order to drive the message forward and let the audience see- Not everything is what it seems to be. #youdontknowme